Reading time ( words)
During the IPC APEX EXPO 2017 event in San Diego, California last month, SMT Xtra's Alexandra Stovin, marketing and public relations manager, and Paul Pittman, sales manager for the United States and Canada, speaks with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey about their company's expansion plans in the U.S. and the benefits they offer their customers.
Pete Starkey: Alex, SMT Xtra is a familiar name in Europe, but you’re launching in the United States after 10 years of success back home. What can you tell me about the company in the first instance? And then what do you supply? Just a little company overview if you would.
Alexandra Stovin: SMT Xtra is a family run company, established 10 years ago this year, founded by its Directors Susan and Sean Cassidy.
With offices and factories in the UK, Hungary, Spain, China and now the USA, we have an established reputation within Europe as one of the top providers of SMT equipment with one of the largest available stock lists.
Starkey: Is this equipment that you've manufactured yourselves or just equipment that you supply?
Stovin: We don't manufacture the equipment ourselves; we just supply the equipment.
We supply all of the major top consumer brands of SMT equipment including but not limited to Panasonic, Juki, Yamaha, Universal and Fuji.
Starkey: Where are you in the UK?
Stovin: We are located in the north, near Sheffield, Doncaster. We have a large purpose built factory there around 5000 square meters, employing about 30 members of staff whom collectively speak 10 languages between them.
Starkey: That's a big benefit.
Stovin: Yes, it is a massive benefit and means that we can provide top quality support to our customer’s around the globe.
Starkey: It seems you've bided your time before setting up in the USA. Is there something strategic about that?
Stovin: I wouldn't say so. Perhaps the decision to leave the EU may have compounded a move there, however, we felt the need for a purpose built facility, stocked with our equipment and an American based sales team to support the growing customer base that we have there.
Starkey: That’s an interesting one. Having mentioned that, do you see that that is any great disadvantage or advantage? Or is it just something that you will manage your way through?
Stovin: I think at the moment this won’t have much effect on how we operate with us having so many locations located across the globe and a strong business network that has developed over the past 10 years.
Starkey: Have you got stocks in the different areas or is everything stocked in the UK?
Stovin: Our largest stock list is in the UK, however we do stock our most popular brands and parts in our other locations across the world. We have a particular focus on growing the American facility at the moment. We are with realtors here in America searching for a 5,000-square-foot factory for us so that we can hold a lot more stock and offer other services such as calibration and repair.
Starkey: Could I ask you what benefits as a company you can offer to your customers? Say I’m a company that wants spare parts, rather than me go to the original manufacturer, what’s the benefit in me coming to you for my parts?
Stovin: We often purchase factories and full lines, so that means that we are able to get our hands on new, used, original and copy equipment very easily. We average around a 40% cost saving against our competitors. which is a massive saving whilst still continuing to provide unrivalled first class customer service. This is something that we have built upon over the years, and we do have a large stock list so we are able to get those items out quickly. We are also now available to offer the same services within America.
Starkey: For the most part are we talking about consumable parts rather than replacement maintenance parts?
Stovin: Yes, brand new nozzles, feeders and any other consumable parts.
Starkey: Is there anything that you would like to add, Paul? So what's your position in the organization?
Paul Pittman: I'm the sales manager for the U.S. sales and Canada, so any account that is inside the borders of the U.S. and also in Canada. I am the sales manager for all that. I am the one that is basically training and developing to grow this business to what is expected in the next two or three years. Like Alex said, we look to purchase a warehouse within the next six months to expand, hold more equipment in the U.S, more feeders, nozzles and the popular SMT spares that provide.
The one big thing about our advantage is being inside the U.S., we will offer those same great prices as we have always done in the UK and save people time from the shipping across the waters. When we ship and I hold it in stock inside the U.S., duty claims don't have to be done by companies, something which we do that all in-house.
Starkey: How do you see the business potential in the U.S. in terms of the state of the electronics assembly industry?
Pittman: I would say that we will average somewhere between one and five million dollars every year for the next two or three years, and hopefully grow it even bigger than that.
Starkey: Do you see the industry growing in strength or holding its own?
Pittman: I would say it is going to grow more in strength right now in the U.S., in my personal opinion. Maybe with some of the new rules and regulations that are happening in the U.S. it might force the U.S. companies to grow and expand. Right now I think the SMT industry is just booming.
Starkey: Is it booming in terms of the large EMS companies or the smaller specialist companies?
Pittman: From what I am seeing, a lot of the large companies are booming. Automotive and Military companies for example, cannot build and grow fast enough, so I think that is really good and there is a chance for the U.S. sales to really boom.
Starkey: That's very interesting to absorb. Thanks very much indeed for joining us.
Pittman: Thank you so much.
Stovin: Thank you.